mikeinsc's Just Cause 2 (Xbox 360) review

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Fun Open World Mayhem

 The original Just Cause was a fun romp with a huge problem that had the flaw of being barren. Your world was epic, but there wasn't a heck of a lot to do. Avalanche has rectified the problem many times over with the sequel.

In fact, few games have worlds as packed as this. There are 360 something places to find and grab upgrades and destroy government property. There are 49 missions for 3 factions. Dozens of challenges. All this seems to demonstrate that they realized that its fun to do dumb shit in their world since there are only 7 main storyline missions...and you have to destroy a ton of shit to qualify for them. It such a huge world the achievements are not to 100% the game since it'd take 100 hrs or so to pull it off.

Fortunately, it is psychotically fun to play this. Controls are tight (outside of driving, which sucks a bit). Your parachute and grappling hook become exceedingly useful means of transportation. The grappling hook also becomes a useful tool in dealing with the countless enemies you will face over and over again. Your weapons are powerful enough to make you feel tough but not enough to make the game easy. You will die frequently because the AI is nothing if not highly aggressive. Get a little bit of heat and the enemies swarm you hard, Keep alive and it only gets worse. You will have to hide and hope to find health kits to stay alive, but it never becomes annoying. And with the volume of deaths you will suffer, that is only a positive thing.

Every mission is instanced, so sadly, you cannot do stuff to make missions easier. If somebody runs to a copter to escape, you cannot blow it up before the mission since it will re-appear when it begins. Voice acting is cheesy, but the game is obviously shooting for cheesy. Rico (you) joins up with everybody else in sounding like a total stereotype, but in a game designed to be like a Michael Bay movie, what else could be expected?

It is good to see companies finding ways to compete with Rockstar's mastery of open world games. Rockstar owns the storytelling, dramatic open world genre...so companies seem to be focusing on the blow-stuff-up alternative. They aren't looking for epics like GTA, Bully, or Red Dead Redemption. So we got Pandemic that approached this style with mixed results (Mercenaries and Saboteur), Voliion nails it (Saints Row), and now Avalanche absolutely kills it with JC2. If only Realtime Worlds did Crackdown 2 instead of a bad MMO and Ruffian didn't screw up Crackdown 2 so badly, we would be in an open world golden age.

Just Cause 2 is fun. Plain and simple. It will suck your time away and you won't even notice. The Achievements will get you to try a long list of dumb things that show just how free you are in this world. I feel bad for companies like Volition because the bar for this type of game has been raised...significantly.

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